Unusual Elements in Architecture

I'm currently reading a book called 'The House You Build', and it mentions and has industrial windows for a home, for example, which look pretty decent incorporated into the design, and I thought to ask you guys what you think about using "industrial", recycled, or otherwise unusual elements for the home, and in *your* designs specifically if you do or don't. In this regard how do you approach it-- practically or theoretically or at all? Where do you get your stuff, and look for inspiration? What stands out for you and makes you choose something over something else. What might be the cost differences, and how easily/readily-available for home use are they, or where would they be acquired? I presume it's a matter of knowing the right suppliers and that there are those (both architects as well as suppliers) that specialize in recycled/industrial/unusual/renewable/alternative/etc. stuff?
--
I might be a worm, but I\'m warm. :)


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Warm Worm wrote:

Ditto to what Don said...
But I've also found that with some things, like windows, that the cost per sq. ft. is almost the same, but it does change the aesthetic. I have storefronts in my house, along with more standard residential windows (H-Windows).
But I've also used a few commercial items, like commercial vinyl for our kitchens and baths (we don't like the hardness of ceramic, I don't think laminates are durable enough, and wood won't take the wear).
It can be done, you just have to be selective about it. Often, it won't be less expensive, just more durable.
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"3D Peruna"

Cool.
That's the sense I get. And it appears that when designers and consumer-oriented manufacturers, etc., get wind that some consumers are using items outside the usual, they end up incorporating it into their selection-- perhaps at a greater premium and lower quality (durability). What do you think?
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Look at industrial glass block. GLass block used to be one of the cheapest things in the world to put into a window frame. I liked it years back, because it was hard to break, "pre-insulated" (dead air space inside), let in light, yet allowed for privacy because of the surface patterns. It used to be incredibly cheap, becuase most people thought it was "tacky".
Then, it became "sheek" =:-p - now look at the cost of it...
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I thought it was more obscuring than that - or were there no details? Hopefully they couldn't see in (unless of course you were charging for the view <L!>)
We could have gotten block (diamond-patterned surface) in the bathroom of the new place, but they wanted $750 for the 4'X4' window. I was apalled by the price. The standard for our model is a double-paned windone where one pane is "rain glass" (looks like droplets), so we kept that.
I saw some pics of pool spas that used glass block, and had lights in the spa, so the effect at night was interresting. I thought of that for our pool, but ended up nixing the spa in favor of swimming space (the pool will be 30'X15' - the steps and the water-wall are in notches off to the side). But that glass block looked good. I saw something on TV where the spa wall was made from wine bottles - sounds tacky but it also looked good, esp. backlit at night.
I'm trying to think whether I can put some sort of glass'n'concrete construct in the back ((just what the world needs - I bought a book on how to make concrete yard thingies, various concrete receipes, and so on)), just because I like the look of glass when it's lit. That's one thing I also like about glass block in a house - it can, if well-designed, look beautiful when lit at night. ((Maybe I can make up a "bottle henge" <LOL!>))
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Yup. Also, I don't get much at all out of the spa here. First, all the jets are near the top of the water, so the bottom is always cold (well, when it's chilly outside). Second, if I'm going to be in the water, I want to be *in* the water, not sitting thre with my butt wet and my upper body sticking out. The seating is not curved, as it is in those molded plastic hot tubs, so it's not like you can lounge comfortably. And making a curved spa as part of a pool would be obscenely expensive.
With the stairs and "under-waterfall seating" being off to the sides, if I do want to sit, I can sit there - but when i want to swim (not that I swim well, but that's not relevant), I won't be constantly kicking something.
The other thing I really hate about pool-spas is trying to get into and out of them. It's completely annoying and for me, an accident just begging to happen. I know that The Ubiquitous They opine a spa is "good for resale value", but I don't think that's at all important, esp. compared with the other features of the property.

I had considered some of that sort of thing but decided against it. I'm considering some of those "light fibers" that I could put around, since the fibers themselves don't carry current. Also, given that the pool perimeter is 95' and the water-wall is 12', also the upgraded stone coping and the pebble finish interior, and the additional equipment (the thing will be rapid-heating and also self-celaning and self-sanitizing, ozone purifier plus electrolytic chlorine generation from rock salt) the thing is already quite expensive enough. If I want to add lighting, there are solar lamps, candels, low-wattage landscape lights, and those fiber lights mentioned here a while back (I kept the link).
We just have the one main light at this point.
Of course, I don't really "entertain". For someone who does entertain, esp. if they do so often, elaborate lighting would prob be more important, since it'd be part of their frequent life experience.
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15 windows on an old cowboy bunkhouse dating back to 1930 I can say as a matter of fact that it is not an easy job locating the right thing, restoring anything old or retrofitting something from the past into a new design, but it is well worth it. Architectural antiques provide character, saves something valuable from our past, save natural resources and are often made of better quality materials with greater craftsmanship. In the end it gives one a very good feeling and a much more interesting project. There is no way the cowboy bunkhouse I mentioned would come close to what it should be with new windows. The old wavy glass gives the whole structure it's true character.
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"Don"

Interesting, although I suppose that nowadays they are.

I imagine that if technical drawings and designs were made specifically for something unusual in mind already, that they would be easier and cheaper to incorporate into the finished structure, especially if they were, say, stock, and restoration was (more or less) unrequired or you wanted a less restored appearance?

Good idea and points, thanks!
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On 13 May 2006, Warm Worm wrote

I'm not an architect, but over the years I've watched a lot of this being done.
Some thoughts...
1. Generally speaking, *anything* -- regardless of its original aesthetic -- can be re-used in a sound and stylish manner.
2. A useful lateral-thinking/training exercise is to take something that seems uninteresting, and see if you can find an entirely different use for it.
3. Sometimes, these experiments work. Re-using salvaged elements -- either for their original purpose, or for something entirely different -- can be wonderful.
4. Sometimes, these experiments don't work. Just because one has re-used salvaged material doesn't automatically confer "wonderfulness" status on the result.
(Never forget point No. 4; it also applies to "hand-made"...)
--
Cheers, Harvey
Architectural and topographical historian
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"HVS"

I coundn't agree more. As for #4-- and I'm sure you'll agree-- I think part of success (and learning) is in the trying, even if you fail.
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On 15 May 2006, Warm Worm wrote

-snip-
Oh, absolutely: but the important bit is to recognise that you've failed, and to move on.
I've never understood why one is supposed to admire persistence:
"Lemme tellya son: I've built over 30 flat roofs on this mountain, and every one of them's collapsed under the weight of the snow -- but I'm damned if I'm gonna give in and design a bloody pitched roof..."
--
Cheers, Harvey
Architectural and topographical historian
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There's a difference between persistance, and fossilization...but many people confuse the two.
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